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Intel Core i7 920, 940 and 965 Extreme Edition review

By Julio Franco · 19 replies
Nov 3, 2008
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  1. Today marks the release of Intel's latest and greatest processor architecture to date. For the past two years Intel has dominated the CPU market with their Core 2 processors, reaping havoc on AMD's Athlon and Phenom products. Yet despite of this significant dominance, Intel will be pushing the Core 2 aside and make room for the new Core i7 processor series.

    Today we will be introducing you to three new Core i7 processors based on the new Intel Nehalem microarchitecture, each featuring 4-cores and operating in the 2.66 to 3.20GHz range. Like the Core 2 family, these new processors feature model numbers, designed to keep things simple.

    The Core i7 965 Extreme Edition runs at 3.20GHz and features a QPI (QuickPath Interface) throughput of 6.4GT/s, which is the key difference here. The mainstream versions of the processor include the Core i7 920 and 940, clocked at 2.66GHz and 2.93GHz, respectively. These more affordable processors feature a QPI throughput of just 4.8GT/s, so it will be interesting to discover what kind of impact this has on performance.

    Read the full review at:

    Please leave your feedback here. Thanks!
  2. Whiffen

    Whiffen TS Rookie Posts: 229

    Great review as always. Never even heard of these processors until now :p Defiantly something I will be looking out for :)

    Makes me sad to see all these nice reviews get minimal comments for all the work put into them XD
  3. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,397   +37

    Wow, great job team, you guys got them very, very soon. However, the processors seem more like a marginal improvement over the Core 2 series, at least from a gaming perspective.

    Anyways, I just had one question. Why didn't you guys use Supreme Commander in your tests? It intensively tests all the cores of a CPU and it would have been interesting to see how well Core i7 performance scaled compared to their (now) older brethren.
  4. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,990   +2,420

    Thank you for the feedback. However that is crazy talk the Core i7 processors are far superior in terms of performance. After all the 920 clocked at 2.66GHz easily defeated the 3.0GHz Q9650 in almost all the tests. We explained why gaming showed minimal improvements yet despite this I still have people e-mailing me asking why the Core i7 is no good for gaming :S

    There was no reason why we didn’t test with Supreme Commander and I would have also liked to have included Company of Heroes. Naturally we will include these tests in future processor comparisons. Unfortunately we never end up getting this hardware well before the NDA is up so it doesn’t give us much time to run all the tests that we would like to.
  5. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 8,162   +1,230

    Regarding the gaming tests and results, I also wanted to add (if it wasn't conclusive enough in the review) that even if you ran with a CPU twice as powerful as the Core i7, the difference in frame rates would be minimal when you have all the visual settings cranked up to the max.

    Most gaming titles rely on the GPU more heavily and even when testing with the GTX 280 which is the best single GPU card currently available, you get a bottleneck at high settings, so the true power of the CPU remains untapped in those circumstances. In titles where SLI/Crossfire boost performance considerably it's likely you can get a larger boost from the extra CPU power.
  6. howardrg

    howardrg TS Rookie

    it's "wreaking havoc" not "reaping havoc"

    otherwise a nice review.
  7. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 8,162   +1,230

  8. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,990   +2,420

  9. AtK SpAdE

    AtK SpAdE TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,341

    Excellent Review. When I first joined here the reviews were good, but now they are better then sites like Toms Hardware.
  10. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 13,810

    Specs: https://www.techspot.com/review/124-intel-core-i7-920-940-965/page4.html

    You know I've never really understood how my old 3.4GHz Core 2 Duo is slower than a new 3.2GHz

    Why can't the manufactures just use a linear table of GHz. I suppose the new chip in reality is not faster on its own, unless it has all this other stuff (multipliers; cache; QuickPath Interface...) is that correct?

    Anyway, maybe I'm still back in the simple days of hardware, and the more GHz meant the more faster.
    I'll try to learn, but I bet that many (millions) in the world are just as confused as me.
  11. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,380   +53

    kim its 4 cores though, not to mention the cache is designed someone differently with more per core.
  12. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,990   +2,420

    For quite some time now GHz has not been the most dominant factor, processors are becoming much more efficient than they once were.

    In fact much the same has happened in the car industry. Years ago we had 5.0L V8’s that are now no faster than 2.0L 4-cylinder cars while today’s V8’s are significantly faster than those of the past. The engine capacity has remained the same yet the efficiency has improved significantly.
  13. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 13,810

    Actually I like that analogy :)
  14. bcceo

    bcceo TS Rookie

    Can ya afford one?

    Lol as ushual itll be 2 years till i can re-Afford the new processors..lol my last ones set me back $1300.00 what r these gona cost...
  15. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,397   +37

    kim, the i7s have a more efficient memory controller and if you use triple-channel DDR3 on an X58 board, the CPU's QPI allows for a copying bandwidth of upto 12GB/sec. Plus, they feature HyperThreading as well, which is very useful on apps that support upto eight simultaneous threads. Also, the i7s use a large L3 cache and a much smaller L2 cache for caching operations.

    However, RAM modules with a Vdimm higher than 1.65V cannot be used, since they will damage the CPU's integrated memory controller.
  16. Tatanka

    Tatanka TS Rookie

    i7 965@3.8Ghz vs Qx9650@4.2Ghz

    ...can you test this configuration?
    I have QX9650@4.2Ghz
    Asus Rampage
    2x1GB Kingston HyperX PC-9600...
    XFX Gtx260 Black Edition.... all for 850euro...for sure blow up i7-965 on crysis OR ANY GAME despite of ddr3 and HT
  17. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 13,810

  18. Tatanka

    Tatanka TS Rookie

    I don't have oportunity to test so many cpus and configuration..an i was wondering something..i just fix an i7-920 which is faster than qx9650 on stock freq.according to all the benchs...BUT...testing qx9650@3.6 vs i7-920@3.6 is quite equal(except syntethic benchs) and on real life qx9650@4ghz is faster than 920@3.6ghz on crysis,farcry fear and a few divx,winrar...That.s why i ask..because Futuremark Vantage is very,very relative,don't reflect the reality(4870vs gtx260/280)...i used a same videocard,Asus P6T,Kingston KVR1333D3N9K3/3G ....maybe the memory timmings are invoved here...i don't know,
  19. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,990   +2,420

    If I had my choice of a Core 2 Quad QX9650 or Core i7 920 processor I would be getting to Core i7 920 for sure. Not to mention it is significantly cheaper!
  20. Tatanka

    Tatanka TS Rookie

    Anyway,it is nothing personal,and i like all the benchs here.and from other sites,just my friend is very dissapointed because he pay 400euro more than me for i7-920 sysmark,everest and sandra benchs,he can buy any high end graphic card and not worry about future games>my qx9650 was just 380euro and you can play any configuration you want on rampage-150euro and hyperx 1200-85euro.....for now,just wait to see i5 and games performance,there are really,not 10" for divx,or 2"seconds for winrar, etc...and for the people which don't understand the value of oc any cpu:for ex:E6700 2,66Ghz@3,2ghz has no same performance like x6800 2.93@3.2ghz from all aspects..but the difference is small and not justify the premium price....Subaru WRX vs Audi R8 ....All the Best!!

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